Top Young Historians: 103 – Jeremy Kuzmarov

TOP YOUNG HISTORIANS

Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

103: Jeremy Kuzmarov, 5-17-10

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Assistant Professor of History, Tulsa University.
Area of Research: Modern American history, U.S. foreign relations history, American empire, America and the world, American covert operations, war and society, American criminal justice system and its internationalization, US War on Drugs, International police training programs.
Education: Doctor of Philosophy, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA, Completed May 2006
Dissertation: The Myth of the Addicted Army – Vietnam and the Modern War on Drugs
Major Publications: Kuzmarov is the author of The Myth of the Addicted Army: Vietnam and the Modern War on DrugsJeremy Kuzmarov JPG (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2009), and is currently writing Modernizing Repression: Police Training and the Violence of Empire (Amhrest, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, under contract).
Kuzmarov is also the author of numerous scholarly journal articles, and reviews including among others:”Modernizing Repression: Police Training, Political Violence and ‘Nation-Building’ in the American Century” Diplomatic History (April 2009);”The Myth of the ‘Addicted Army’: Drug Use in Vietnam in Historical Perspective” War and Society (October 2007);”From Counter-Insurgency to Narco-Insurgency: Vietnam and the International War on Drugs” Journal of Policy History (Summer 2008);”American Police Training and Political Violence: From the Philippines Conquest to the Killing Fields of Afghanistan and Iraq,” The Asia-Pacific Journal, 11-1-10, March 15, 2010.
Awards: Kuzmarov is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including among others:
Sachar Dissertation Award, Graduate Studies Association Brandeis University, 2004-2005;
Crown Fellowship, Brandeis University American History Department, 2002-2006.
Additional Info:
Formerly Visiting Assistant Professor of History Bucknell University (2006-2009)
Kuzmarov’s lecture”The Myth of the Addicted Army” at University of Arkansas-Fayetville, sponsored by the local branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws was broadcast on CSPAN in February 2010.

Personal Anecdote

I first became interested in history hearing stories from my grandfather, Oscar Weinstein, who passed away last year at the age of 99 and had an incredible memory. Intellectually, my perspective was first shaped by a course that I took at Dawson College in Montreal on the so-called anti-psychiatrists – R.D. Laing and Erich Fromm – whose idea that mental illness was a social construct and a product of the pathologies and intolerance of society I found to be compelling. At McGill University, I took a course on crime and punishment which introduced me to radical theories of criminology and examined the social roots and construction of deviance in Western society. Then I read Noam Chomsky, whose work on state crime and terrorism was (and remains) highly illuminating, and Alfred W. McCoy’s on the CIA’s support for the global narcotics trade, which my own research on the topic confirmed to be right on the mark.

My first book The Myth of the Addicted Army: Vietnam and the Modern War on Drugs draws on sociological theories about”moral panics” and the construction of deviance in examining the origins and growth of the modern drug war. I try and demonstrate how policy-makers and the media greatly exaggerated the scope and ravages of drug abuse in the army, creating a climate of hysteria over drugs which supplanted public concern about the war itself and resulted in the growth of repressive prohibition measures. The myth of the drug-addicted soldier took hold so widely in my view because it provided a convenient political scapegoat, which helped to deflect attention away from the carnage in Indochina, and to absolve of responsibility those responsible for perpetrating and expanding the war. The second half of the book analyzes the consequences of the War on Drugs, including its link to the growth of the carcerial state in the US and major human rights abuses internationally while at the same time failing to curb supply rates.

Building off this work, I am currently completing a book on American international police training programs entitled Modernizing Repression. Adopting a comparative analysis, I chronicle how police programs have served as an important mechanism for expanding American power from the conquest of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century through the 21st century occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and resulted in significant human rights violations. This book combines my interests in criminal justice, US foreign policy and covert operations and draws on many of the formative intellectual influences in my professional career and life.

Quotes

By Jeremy Kuzmarov

  • “The enduring quality of the myth of the addicted army in many respects demonstrates America’s long-standing
    inability to come to terms with the moral consequences of the Vietnam War. By reimagining their soldiers as victims and the U.S. military defeat as a”tragedy,” Americans were able to deflect responsibility for the massive destruction and loss of life inflicted on the people of Southeast Asia and thus to avoid serious reconsideration of the ideological principles that rationalized the American intervention. The silencing and demonizing of dissenting voices, including antiwar GIs typecast as psychopathic junkies, aided in this process.” — Jeremy Kuzmarov in”The Myth of the Addicted Army”
  • “With remarkable continuity, police aid was used not just to target criminals but to develop elaborate intelligence networks oriented towards internal defense, which allowed the suppression of dissident groups to take place on a wider scope and in a more surgical and often brutal way. In effect, the U.S. helped to modernize intelligence gathering and political policing operations, thus magnifying their impact. They further helped to militarize the police and provided them with a newfound perception of power, while schooling them in a hard-line anticommunism that fostered the dehumanization of political adversaries and bred suspicion about grass-roots mobilization…… Although the U.S. was not always in control of the forces that it empowered and did not always condone their acts, human rights violations were not by accident or the product of rogue forces betraying American principles, as some have previously argued. They were rather institutionalized within the fabric of American policy and its coercive underpinnings.” — Jeremy Kuzmarov in”Modernizing Repression: Police Training, Nation-Building and the Spread of Political Violence in the American Century,” Diplomatic History, April 2009

About Jeremy Kuzmarov

  • “The Myth of the Addicted Army will contend for best-book awards in history, sociology, and many fields of policy studies. It is chock full of original research utilizing government documents and interviews with policy makers to show how the war in Vietnam incubated the myth of widespread drug addiction among U.S. troops that became, in turn, the back story to the homefront War on Drugs.” — Jerry Lembcke, author of The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam
  • “What is so compelling about Jeremy Kuzmarov’s book is his careful depiction of how ‘the myth of the addicted army’ was used for a variety of political and cultural purposes. He convincingly shows that Nixon adopted the drug policy he did in order to advance his own political fortunes, and that Nixon’s drug war set the terms of the discussion in several ways. It obscured the real lack of evidence for a drug epidemic among GIs and set off an irrational response to drug use that has been a staple of American politics and popular culture ever since.” — William O. Walker, author of Drug Control in the Americas

Posted on Friday, May 14, 2010 at 2:35 PM

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: